Our faith is the foundation of our society, won’t you agree, that’s why we are governed by three elements namely; culture, critical thinking and courage. Breaking the silence isn’t easy as it carries with it a lot of criticism. Before we go further, let’s set the stage with some historical context, the movement of change in Kenya started around 1965 through the critical thinking of Mzee Jaramogi Odinga where he fought for the release of Mzee Jomo Kenyatta. Things changed as most of Kenyatta’s comrades didn’t like the methods that mzee was using and they were later imprisoned. Mzee betrayed his comrade as he was grabbing land, the same land that they all fought for. We must be loyal to those thoughts as one can’t lead a society until he/she understands the aspirations of that society. Whatever our ancestors sow is what we reap today. We have lost our ways, we are not the country of our mothers and fathers. We have betrayed their trust and squandered their faith, the faith that keeps Kenya strong.
It must take a vision and imagination of a wise man to realize that the weakest element to any system has always been the human element since we have a transforming constitution but it is not transforming us, we have principle like leadership and integrity but we struggle to uphold it. We all can remember sessional paper No 10 of 1965 which was the genesis of the curse in our country as it massaged the colonial mentality by clustering people in different classes. The vertebral column of Kenyan politics today has led to the use of our constitution in a warp manner. This begs for a billion dollar question, how can we gravitate from the quagmire of unhealthy politics?
3% HOUSE LEVY
Nothing warms my heart like change however every first year of any new government has been very tough throughout Kenyans history. In Kenya the starting point is our constitution under article 1(4) that weds with article 43(b) where the sovereign power of the people is exercised at both national and county level and on the other hand, every person has the right to accessible and adequate housing and reasonable standards of sanitation. Affordable housing was among the Big four pillars of our former president Hon. UHURU KENYATTA with his co-partner WILLIAN RUTO, that all Kenyans should have decent housing. He even wanted to implement 1.5% levy to public servant but failed. This percentage was targeted to specific individuals ‘public servants’ and in 2023 Financial Bill, Hon RUTO has applied the same tactic but increased the levy from 1.5% to 3%. This is an ill-timed financial bill referendum since Kenyans are struggling to make ends meet with all products being heavily taxed.
East or west home is the best, the saying goes and that is why the president’s agenda of making Kenya own home has found its footing in the new Financial Bill of 2023. There is a glimmer of hope to Kenyans who want to own their own houses in different parts of the country. The gist is that people should decolonise their brain from the York of paying rent to the idea of actually owning them. Success of any country starts by making bold decision and that’s why a country like china is among the super power countries in the world, on the other hand most Kenyans think that the proposed Financial Bill 2023 should be progressively implemented. Progressive in the sense that tax has been increased in NHIF, NSSF and now house levy, this will accumulate to around 11.5% deduction on the salary and not forgetting KRA returns.
Nobody like to be milked dry and that Kenyans need to see the value of their money. The government has not yet settled the issue of corruption as 2 billion Kenya shillings is lost every day, where does this taxpayer’s money go to? Our president foreign travel budget is 9 billion in a year that is equivalent to around 11 to 25 million per day, yet the common ‘mwananchi’ is struggling to put food on the table. Is this the hustler nation mentality?
People have taken a back site of misinformation and that Kenyans need to read the Finance Bill and let it speak to them in a sophisticated manner. The purpose of the fund is an off-take fund as government has provided land at lower cost for the construction of the houses. The sponsor of this bill is President RUTO and despite having been in a wobbling waters we are still steady. Housing levy will bring forth fruits such as;
a) Creation of employment
b) Horizontal services such as water supply, sewage etc.
c) Decent and affordable housing
d) Shifting from rent payment to owning homes
e) Boosting local manufacturing sector
f) Reduction of VAT tax on imported building materials
g) Creating and opening gates for investors
h) Putting a stop to slums
i) Refundable money
It is wise to ask ourselves, does the finance bill appreciate the suffering of Kenyans? Article 201 appreciate the principles of public finance, however the government through his PS. Charles Hinga said that housing levy isn’t a tax but a contribution and on the other hand the president is saying that we must be patriotic to our country by paying tax and implementing the bill into law. Is that being patriotic or is it just a word that is used to cover the big lie to Kenyans. Will this be the case or is it just a show to collect and over tax Kenyans? I will let you be the judge to that. The following are challenges that comes with the bill;
a) There is a liquidation challenge on tax dispute, since one is required to pay 20% of the disputed amount upfront.
b) The financial and economic model is wrongly placed.
c) The issue is poor legislative drafting
d) The element of different classes of housing, that is;
i. Slums construction that has been branded as social housing program
ii. Affordable housing
In my understanding affordable housing is for the rich and social housing program is for the poor in the sense that the maximum amount of money for slum will be 6,500 for 2 bedroom house and in affordable housing the lowest cost is 20,000 up to 100,000 and above. The rich have a mortgage gap and mortgage market where they can decide to take but what of the poor people the lack such option. This will lead to discrimination.
e) There is no surety to those who will contribute and still own houses.
f) Loss of jobs. Section 31 of the Employment Act amplifies that the employer provide at least 15% of house allowance to his/her employees and on the other hand the government want him to contribute to 3% house levy
g) Who will be the investors? Will it be the foreign or local investors? Let’s take a look at the SGR project where the same was said that it will bring forth employments but Kenyans were employed as labors and not engineers or even architecture.
h) Governance issue is alive and well as the bill doesn’t expound on it and that is why the previous government did not successfully implement the 1.5%
i) Contradiction whether the levy is a tax or not. Tax is non-refundable and that being the case then house levy isn’t a tax since after 7 year one can opt to either continue saving or ship out. 3% contains all the element of a taxi. A compulsory payment to all public servant and some Kenyans
ii. For government purpose which is building houses
If one has any doubts then I employ you to read the Australian case of Matthews v Chicory Marketing Board 1938 60 CLR 263.
Members of parliament especially Silvanus Osoro assured the president that the bill will pass whether Kenyans like it or not. This is a political cultism where what the boss wants goes, hence the quote Mtadu! Comes in. This is what I call thoracic politics where leader chest thump their agenda’s to their subjects, however there is a glimmer of hope as the biggest stumbling block to house levy and finance bill is public participation. That’s why the president is trying hard to convince many people as he can to support the bill.
Humans, oh! Great being, they have lots of freedom and even with this technology, have we been more divided in thoughts and in spirit? Am driven by Albert Einstein quote, ‘the world will not be destroyed by those who do evil but by those who watch and do nothing’ that is why I have table my thoughts and facts to you in a more precise manner. I employ you to be the judges to the Finance Bill 2023. We as a country have one of the best constitution in the world but ignorance still speaks deep to the heart of many as people don’t like to read and that being the case they are misinformed. The government has a mandate to provide food, shelter, security, employment and education to its people however these services have to be reciprocated by citizens who should pay tax. Should people pay a price for a better life? What I think the issue would be if everyone could exercise the magnanimity in paying taxes for the better good for our country. Don’t you agree with me?
They are right when they said when it rain it pours, life hasn’t been easy for many individual living not only in Kenya but around the globe. If history is our guide, the first wound we suffer would be self-inflicted since we turn on our own first. The question that we should all ask is what must a good ruler possess to rule their subjects? I’ve learned something very important that a leader of integrity must put his family first above all. Love is the gift of the saints, it is what keeps the country whole. But love is not enough to protect its citizens, leadership requires sacrifice, a reconciliation sacrifice. A good ruler must possess nothing at all, they must be willing to give everything they have in the name of Kenya.
Isaiah 1:18 employs us to reason together. Both AZIMIO and Kenya Kwanza had one thing in common, ‘housing’. It is wise that both the two parties should join hands in amplifying the housing initiative for the sake of its citizen and if AZIMIO have a better idea they should table it but not criticising everything that the current government is doing. We all feel the pain of hash economy but it is said that if you feel pain then you are a live and if you feel pain for many then you are human. Human are vulnerable and that we have to do something for them.
- Constitution of Kenya 20102. Employment Act CAP 226 revised 2012 (2007)3. The holy Bible4. Finance Bill 2023